Penn State Men’s Soccer Eyeing Another Trophy Ahead Of Big Ten Tournament
Penn State men’s soccer just wrapped up its regular season with a 1-1 draw against Wisconsin as it clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. The Nittany Lions and Indiana both finished with 14 points at the end of the conference slate.
Indiana defeated the Nittany Lions 2-1 in early October, and senior captain Peter Mangione had the lone goal in the loss. The Hoosiers were awarded the No. 1 overall seed for the 2023 Big Ten Tournament because of their victory over Penn State during the season.
Penn State started the year strong with draws against a ranked Pitt team and defending national champion Syracuse. Head coach Jeff Cook’s team hit a few bumps in the road during the season and believed it should’ve won the regular-season title outright. The Nittany Lions finished with a 9-3-4 record with a 4-2-2 record in the conference.
The group comes into the tournament as the second-ranked team and will face No. 7 Rutgers at 7 p.m. Friday. The match will be hosted at Jeffrey Field in front of the Park Avenue Army, and Penn State will need to come up with three straight victories to be crowned the tournament champion.
Just two years ago, the Nittany Lions won the regular-season and tournament title, a feat it aims to accomplish once again.
“We want rings…so we just want it we want it really bad. So that’s really the only motivation we need,” senior center back Femi Awodesu said.
The Nittany Lions have a tall task ahead of them. Although no Big Ten team ranks inside the top 25 of the United Coaches Poll, it’s still a conference with plenty of talent and experience across the board.
Penn State met with Rutgers once earlier this season and lost 2-1. This time, the Nittany Lions have a chance to turn the tables.
If Penn State wants to come out with a victory, it will come down to sticking to its identity. The team doesn’t win on the pitch with an overpowering offense but a sound defense and controlled midfield.
It starts with goalkeeper Kris Shakes, who has been dominant all year. It then falls on Awodesu and Mangione to control the game in the middle of the field as the two captains of the squad.
“Our message is just to keep going. We have one little loss against Indiana, and we’re just trying to keep going up no matter what,” Awodesu said.
Penn State’s x-factor lies in midfielder Van Danielson, who comes off the bench for the Nittany Lions. Danielson has scored multiple goals off the bench in the second half of games this year, including the equalizer at Wisconsin to secure the Big Ten Championship.
Penn State hasn’t been perfect this year by any stretch, but it battled to a regular-season title. Now it heads to battle once again, this time for an even bigger trophy on the line.
If Penn State advances past Rutgers, the semifinals are set for Wednesday, November 8, and the finals for Sunday, November 12. The time and location for both are to be determined. If Penn State was to defeat the Scarlet Knights, it would face the winner of Michigan State and Ohio State.
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About the Author
The ranking comes after the Nittany Lions defeated Michigan State 42-0 on Black Friday.
This is the first time the Lady Lions have received AP Poll votes since 2014.
The Onward State crew headed to the Motor City for some football, pizza, and a swing set overlooking Canada.